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The dynamic interplay of inequality and trust—An experimental study

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  • Greiner, Ben
  • Ockenfels, Axel
  • Werner, Peter

Abstract

We study the interplay of inequality and trust in a dynamic growth game, in which trust increases efficiency and thus allows higher growth of the laboratory economy in the future. We find that trust (as measured by the percentage of wealth invested in a trust game) is initially high in a treatment starting with equal endowments, but decreases over time. In a treatment with unequal endowments, trust is initially lower yet more robust. The disparity of wealth distributions across economies mitigates over time. Our findings suggest that both the level and the (exogenous or endogenous) source of inequality matters for the dynamics of trust.

Suggested Citation

  • Greiner, Ben & Ockenfels, Axel & Werner, Peter, 2012. "The dynamic interplay of inequality and trust—An experimental study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 355-365.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:81:y:2012:i:2:p:355-365 DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2011.11.004
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    Cited by:

    1. Posten, Ann-Christin & Ockenfels, Axel & Mussweiler, Thomas, 2014. "How activating cognitive content shapes trust: A subliminal priming study," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 12-19.
    2. G. Calzolari & M. Casari & R. Ghidoni, 2016. "Carbon is Forever: a Climate Change Experiment on Cooperation," Working Papers wp1065, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
    3. Vladimír Gazda & Marek Gróf & Július Horváth & Matúš Kubák & Tomáš Rosival, 2012. "Agent based model of a simple economy," Journal of Economic Interaction and Coordination, Springer;Society for Economic Science with Heterogeneous Interacting Agents, vol. 7(2), pages 209-221, October.
    4. Gabriele Camera & Cary Deck & David Porter, 2016. "Do Economic Inequalities Affect Long-Run Cooperation?," Working Papers 16-18, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    5. Ewa Zawojska, 2014. "The role of dynamics for trust development. An experimental study," Ekonomia journal, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw, vol. 38.
    6. Bergh, Andreas & Bjørnskov, Christian, 2014. "Trust, welfare states and income equality: Sorting out the causality," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 183-199.
    7. Bergh, Andreas & Bjørnskov, Christian, 2013. "Trust, Welfare States and Income Equality: What Causes What?," Working Paper Series 994, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    8. Xiao, Erte & Bicchieri, Cristina, 2008. "When Equality Trumps Reciprocity: Evidence from a Laboratory Experiment," MPRA Paper 9375, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Masaki Aoyagi & Naoko Nishimura & Yoshitaka Okano, 2017. "Efficiency and Voluntary Redistribution under Inequality," ISER Discussion Paper 0992, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    10. Rodriguez-lara, Ismael, 2015. "Equal distribution or equal payoffs? Reciprocity and inequality aversion in the investment game," MPRA Paper 63313, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Inequality; Trust; Growth; Laboratory experiments;

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution

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